More Plant Necromancy

Its been about two months since I came back to a dead looking avocado tree whose leaves had all dried up and fallen off. Because the stem was still green I didn’t get rid of it, continuing to water it and hope. Today its put out little buds.20161015_145959

Apologies for the blurry photograph, I’ve drunk slightly too much coffee today so there was some camera shake involved.

Moral of the story, if its still green there’s hope.


Plant Necromancy

Before I went to Ireland in the Summer I managed to give most of my plants to friends to take care of. Unfortunately the person who was meant to take custody of my spring onions and avocado tree didn’t turn up so I had to leave them to die in the sun.

I noticed when I got back that one of them still had a green bulb under all the straw so I lazily decided to put off uprooting the rest for a while only to discover they were nowhere near as dead as I thought.


So I continued to leave them, with regular watering, and more of them resurrected themselves than not.


The moral of the story is that often your plants are not as dead as you think. The avocado tree still has no leaves but the stem is also still green so I’m waiting and seeing.


The Botanical Gardens Again

My family are up for the Easter weekend and because the sun was out we decided to go to the Botanical Gardens today. Mum was excited because we thought the Rhododendrons would be out already, but most of them haven’t bloomed yet. Only the red ones have, though I don’t know if that’s a coincidence or something specific about the breed.


One of the ones that has.

We passed through the Chinese Hillside Garden on our way to the Scottish Heath Garden, and the bright, thin spring light meant I couldn’t resist taking this photo.


We found the Rock Garden first, which has a lot of plants from New Zealand and some really dramatic landscaping.




The Scottish Heath Garden is meant to be representative of the Scottish countryside, containing a selection of native plants and a faux abandoned croft.

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I’m not actually sure which section of the gardens we were in at this point, but we found a pond full of really cute little toads swimming about and their spawn. We also learned a new thing (the teenager and I), which is how to tell frog and toad-spawn apart. Toad-spawn forms clumps while frog-spawn appears in strings.


Spring Onions


I’m quite proud of these. At some point I decided to try regrowing vegetables from scrap ends and this is one of the results. If you want to try this for yourself all you need to do is put the cut ends in water for a few days until they sprout new green shoots and then transfer them to a pot. You can actually see how some of the ones in the image are splitting into two plants!

The Chinese Hillside Garden

My grandparents are visiting this week and we decided to make use of the sunny weather to revisit the Botanical Gardens. Our goal was the Chinese Hillside Garden, but we stopped on our way in to examine this experiment being grown along the side of the bridge that leads into the grounds from the visitor centre.

20150709_141051 20150709_141104 20150709_141114These are all species of carrot and the goal is to compare nutrient levels to see if any were lost during domestication. As you can see, despite growing side by side in the same set up they’re already showing significant variation in growth, though what this means for nutrient content is unknown. A staff member is on hand to explain the experiment to guests and once again I was impressed by the holistic approach to visitor education taken by the Gardens, where information about the plants is integrated into the environment without becoming dry and the explanations are clear without being patronising.

To get to the Chinese Hillside Garden you have to head up through the Arboretum, but its not difficult to find (unlike the Scottish Heath Garden) and, even though it does have some inclined and unpaved paths my grandparents were able to manage it without trouble so I’d say it presents a moderate level of difficulty to people with limited mobility but who don’t yet need mobility aids (but obviously I’m not a doctor or someone who can provide an expert opinion so don’t take my word for it).


Like many of the areas in the Gardens, the Chinese Hillside Garden is both an educational and a conservation project. Due to the boom in Western interest in Chinese Medicine a number of plants grown there have been over harvested and are at risk. The Hillside Garden is designed to ensure the plants are preserved while educating the public about them. The Garden itself is a miniature model of a Himalayan mountainside, like a living diagram with each altitude represented as you walk down.


All the plants grown here have a medicinal purpose.


But aesthetics are an integral part of the landscaping with bridges, waterfalls and pools interspersed naturally with the trees and plants.


Midsummer Cake Fest


The Botanical Gardens held a Cake Fest for Midsummer, where local bakers got together and recreated the city in cake form. Like entry to the gardens themselves (except for a few parts of the greenhouses), entry to the festival was free, as were pieces of the finished cake which they handed out at around five in the afternoon. There was also live music and a small market selling locally produced jams, food and teas and which had activities for children (making modge podge cats was a thing apparently, I don’t ask the tiny people about their enthusiasms). My favorite was the stall Anteaques (an antique shop that serves tea and scones around the antiques) set up, where they brought in samples of those of their teas which were made from plants grown in the gardens and put up a map of where to find them, as I thought it was a brilliant way to connect the final tea to the whole process of growing and producing it.


The harp inside the pavilion is carved from a tree that had to be cut down due to Dutch Elm Disease.

The Gardens themselves are huge and made up of environments so different that its like moving between countries when you cross over from one to the next. We only spent time in a handful of them, starting with the Arboretum, an almost natural looking park filled with trees and which leads into the Alpines area. Some of the plants live outside but the one with the most specific environmental needs live in the Alpine House where the area is temperature and moisture controlled.


Hen and Chicks succulent.


Fringed Pink

For me my absolute favorite part of the gardens were the beds managed by the HND students, tucked behind the Hedge. I’m going to do a larger post on them later but here’s some pictures. The themes seemed largely to be sustainable and functionality, from poisonous plants to healing herbs.

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